Whether you have an exercise regimen or you’re trying to find one during pregnancy, birthing balls are a great place to start.
Pregnancy balls allow you to stay active in a way that’s comfortable and can support your changing body. They also allow you to strengthen the muscles needed most for labor.
Ready to learn the 11 best birthing ball exercises? Keep reading.
Pregnancy Safe Exercise
You might be wondering which exercises are safe during pregnancy and for who.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pregnant women should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week. That could be broken down into 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week.
Before beginning any new exercise regime, make sure to talk to your doctor first. For some people, like those with high-risk pregnancies, exercise is not recommended.
What is a Pregnancy Exercise Ball?
A pregnancy exercise ball is also known as a birthing ball or pregnancy ball. It’s an inflatable ball that’s bigger than a normal exercise ball. The size better supports a mother as her body changes. Compared to other inflatable balls, exercise and pregnancy balls are made with non-slip material, making it safer for you to use without sliding.
Pregnancy balls can be used during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum.
There are 4 main ways people use a pregnancy exercise ball:
- Many pregnancy exercises on a ball aim to stretch your muscles and take pressure off your back.
- Bouncing. Simply bouncing on a pregnancy ball can engage your pelvis, preparing it for labor.
- You can use a pregnancy exercise ball for sitting instead of a chair or sofa. Since you use your muscles to stabilize yourself on the ball, this is an easy way to strengthen your core. They can also be used postpartum when sitting on furniture might cause discomfort in the vaginal area.
- Pregnancy balls can be used during your workout routine. For example, wall squats and ab crunches become easier during pregnancy if you use an exercise ball.
Why Use a Pregnancy Exercise Ball?
Pregnancy exercise balls are used for a few reasons:
- The weight of your growing baby puts pressure on your back and hips, leading to aches and pains. Sitting on a pregnancy ball can reduce the pressure, proving relief.
- Prepare for labor. Certain exercises on a pregnancy ball can help you prepare for labor. Moves that strengthen your pelvic floor and stomach can make labor easier and possibly less painful.
- A pregnancy ball is also great for getting physical activity during pregnancy. As your body changes, you’ll probably find some exercises more difficult. A pregnancy ball can be used as a tool to modify those exercises, giving you a great workout that’s also comfortable.
Tips for Doing Pregnancy Exercises on a Ball
Before we jump into ideas for pregnancy exercises on a ball, there’s some things to consider:
- Make sure you’re stable. Choose exercises that are safe for your balance. A wobbly balance can cause you to become unsteady and fall over. If you don’t have the balance for a certain movement, skip it and find something more doable
- Avoid laying on your back. Avoid ball exercises that require you to lay on your back because it can drop blood pressure.
- Adapt workouts for your body. As you get further along in your pregnancy, your ability to perform certain exercises will change. Make sure to adapt your workouts as your body changes.
11 Pregnancy Exercises on Ball
Below are the best birthing ball exercises during pregnancy.
Seated marching is an easier exercise to strengthen your ab muscles. Since you shouldn’t lay on your back for crunches, this is a great alternative.
- Sit on the ball with your feet on the floor and your knees bent.
- Engaging your core, sit tall.
- Slowly raise one foot off the floor, lifting your knee for a crunch.
- Hold the position and lower your foot to the floor.
- Repeat on the other leg.
Wall Squats with Exercise Ball
Wall squats aren’t only great for your glutes—they’re great for your pelvic floor muscles.
- Put the birth ball between your lower back and a wall.
- Stand with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart.
- Bend your knees and lower your hips into a squat.
- Press your heels down and stand back up.
Kegels AKA Pelvic Floor Exercise
Kegels are an exercise to strengthen your pelvic floor, getting it ready for labor. Kegels can be difficult to do because you can’t see the muscle working.
To do a Kegel, sit on your pregnancy ball and contract your pelvic floor muscles, hold for a few seconds, and release. To help you know which muscle to contract, envision the same one you use to stop the flow of urine. Imagining this muscle can help you perform the exercise.
Ball bridges work your hips and glutes. Ball bridges are good to do during early pregnancy, but in the later stages, they’ll be uncomfortable.
Sit on the floor with your back against your ball. Press your feet into the floor to push up and lift your hips up, using the ball behind you for stability. Hold the bridge position and lower back into a seated position.
Birthing Ball Pushups
Birthing balls are a great tool to strengthen your arms without weights. This movement also works your core.
- Stand facing the wall, holding the exercise ball against the wall at your chest.
- Step your feet back and fully extend your arms.
- Engage your core and bend your elbows, leaning into the exercise ball.
- Push back from the exercise ball and return to the standing position.
The Figure 8 movement is used to open up your pelvis. It’s yet another great exercise to prepare for labor.
- Sit on the ball with your feet on the floor, slightly wider than hip-width apart.
- Move your hips in a figure-8 motion, letting the ball pivot as you move.
The ball rollout is a great birthing ball exercise and is ideal for working your abdominals. Strengthening your abs helps support your lower back, putting less tension on it as your belly grows.
- Kneel in front of your birthing ball.
- Rest your forearms on the ball.
- Roll the ball forward, extending your arms, engaging your core, and keeping your back straight.
- Hold and roll the ball back in.
Hip Flexor Stretch
This is another great movement for opening up your hips, preparing them for labor.
- Sit on your birthing ball.
- Slide your right leg behind your ball, straightening it.
- Lean back slightly to feel the stretch in your thigh.
Kneeling Hip Circles
Hip circles increase your flexibility, which will come in handy during labor.
- Kneel in front of your birth ball with your forearms on the ball.
- Clasp your fingers around the ball and rest your chest.
- Turn your head to the side.
- Plant your knees into the floor and circle your hips clockwise.
- Repeat, moving your hips counterclockwise.
Ball Exercises for the First Trimester
Don’t wait until the later stages of pregnancy to start using a birthing ball—start strengthening your muscles now!
This playlist features 22 exercises perfect for the first and second trimester.
Pregnancy Ball Exercises for the Third Trimester
Birthing balls are great to use in the third trimester to open up your hips and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, getting your body ready for labor.
This playlist features 8 exercises great for the third trimester.
Summary: Exercise on Birthing Ball
Birthing balls can be used to provide pain relief and keep active during pregnancy. Pregnancy ball exercises are ideal to open up your hips, strengthen your pelvic floor, abs, and glutes—all of which help prepare you for labor.
Exercising on a birthing ball is safe for most pregnancies, but be sure to talk to your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen.
Do You Have a Fetal Doppler Yet?
Fetal dopplers allow you to hear your baby’s heartbeat before she’s born. Simply use ultrasound gel and the probe to detect your heartbeat and play it through speakers for the whole family to hear.